St. Paul, MN
See ice sculptures in Rice Park and snow sculptures at the Fairgrounds, go down the snow slide, compete in a jigsaw-puzzle contest, take a free fire-truck ride and watch barstool ski races and lawn-mower races.
The Grande Day Parade is Jan. 25 and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade Feb. 1, followed by fireworks.
Time to pack on the calories: More than 370 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $24 at brunch or lunch and $36 or $48 at dinner.
Lake Geneva, WI
In this lake town, there's music, magic shows, a human sled-dog race, helicopter rides, ice bars and an ice castle, plus the snow-sculpting championship.
Clear Lake, IA
The Surf Ballroom marks the 61st anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours.
In this Brainerd Lakes area, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides, bonfires, ice car races, helicopter rides, Friday fireworks and Italian Outdoor Olympics.
The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day'' was filmed in this town an hour northwest of Chicago, and it celebrates with storytelling, family games and tours of movie sites, including the 1889 Opera House, where actor Bill Murray jumped from the belfry. At 7 a.m. Sunday, Woodstock Willie will look for his shadow.
For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Feb. 1 Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' Afterward, there's a tent party with music and beer.
There are also classical and free-style races, ski games for children, a snow-sculpture contest and orienteering, ice-cycle, speedskating, snowshoeing and skijoring races, plus a beer garden and vendor village at the Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park, location of most events.
At the top of a hill that's the equivalent of a 41-story skyscraper, watch jumpers fly by at 55 mph. It's fun to watch because the jump is built onto the side of a coulee, and spectators can climb it and watch from the top. There are hot drinks and food at the bottom.
Fish Creek, WI
This Door County village lets loose with such events as a toilet-seat throw, pie tin toss, bean-bag cannon shoot, smoosh racing and an ugly-sweater contest. There are also free trolley rides, ice carving, a fiddle contest, a snowshoe dance and fireworks.
South Haven, MI
There's an ice-carving competition in this Lake Michigan town, plus wagon rides, synchronized skating and a chili cook-off.
St. Joseph, MI
Watch the pros carve sculptures in this Lake Michigan town. There's also entertainment, a scavenger hunt and magic and crafts for kids.
This village near Waupaca offers ice carving, a lutefisk dinner, ski and snowshoe races and ski jumping.
Mount Horeb, WI
The festival in this town just west of Madison features such events as turkey bowling, a snowman-building contest, kick sledding, a spelling bee and a vintage snowmobile show and ride.
This annual festival in West Duluth's Quarry Park features such events as a free ice-climbing clinic for youths 12 and older, beginner and intermediate clinics for adult climbers, a fat-bike intro and presentations on mountain climbing.
Lake Mills, WI
This town east of Madison holds a fish toss, snowball-eating contest, dad-sled race, chili cook-off and Iceberg Open golf tournament. There's ice carving and ice wine, too.
At the Hjemkomst Center, there's snow yoga, a snow-sculpture contest, games, a guided snowshoe hike, a marshmallow roast and free use of cross-country skis and snowshoes.
Frozen Lake Harriet hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Check for scheduled events and ice conditions.
The annual festival in Elver Park features cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing plus music, family games and ice and snow sculptures.
Watch four races over two days and get in some skiing and snowshoeing on the side.
Celebrate the Year of the Rat in Chinatown with a parade, marching bands, lion dancing and fireworks.
This snow fest at Michigan Tech University includes a human dog-sled race, snow volleyball and a tug of war and ends with a torchlight parade and fireworks at Mont Ripley ski hill.
This festival shows a large selection of documentaries specializing in adventure, extreme sports and environmental issues.
At Peace Plaza downtown, five ice bars each offer a different theme and signature drink, with ice sculptures illuminated by lights and nightly DJ entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, there's a FAM JAM for families.
There's a best-beard contest, snow sculpting, an arts market, fat-tire bike demos and a ride, Ely Folk School classes and a free snowshoe hike to the Hegman Petroglyphs.
Around the region
There's nothing better than skiing (or snowshoeing or hiking) through a twinkling forest or across a luminary-lined lake. There's usually a bonfire and hot chocolate to enjoy afterward.
Eau Claire, WI
Visit more than 100 artists at studios in the Building 13 art complex. Many will give demonstrations. There will be also music, food and art projects for children.
There will be a Friday night torchlight parade and fireworks plus a craft fair, smoosh boarding, morning balloon launches and evening moon glows.
Detroit Lakes, MN
Over two weekends, this festival features such events as a snow angels competition, tubing night, snowman build, fishing derby, wildlife tracking, fat-tire bike races and fireworks.
Fond du Lac, WI
Lake Winnebago is the setting for this celebration of giant fish. There will be a 6 p.m. Friday parade, ice carving and snow sculpting, a snowman-building contest, free dog-sled rides, bonfires and live music.
There's turkey bowling, minnow races, an antique snowmobile show and a fat-bike ride in this western Wisconsin town.
Around the region
Town on rivers where eagles gather in winter offer live bird presentations, guided tours and cultural activities.
This car show at McCormick Place is the largest in the nation and third-largest in the world.
Watch ice-climbing demos, slide shows and professional climbers and take clinics for beginners at spectacular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior.
Listen to programs and go on field trips to see such boreal species as evening grosbeak, northern hawk owl, gray jay and particularly snowy owls. Register early for this festival northwest of Duluth.
This free kite festival hosted by Lake Lawn Resort features flying lessons, a kite-making workshop, an aerial candy drop, a snow slide, indoor and outdoor kite-flying performances, a snow-carving class and snow and ice sculptures on Delavan Lake and downtown.
The weekend starts with a Friday-night party in Ashland. On Saturday night, ski or snowshoe across Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay on a 10-kilometer route lined by ice luminaries. If you're not too fast, fireworks will fill the sky as you're approaching Washburn; a bonfire, chili feed and blues music follow.
Clear Lake, IA
This town in north-central Iowa draws kiters from eight states for its festival, the largest in the Midwest, and stunt fliers will perform routines choreographed to music.
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Ice and snow sculptors create pieces around town. There's a novice category for beginners.
In this small town north of Cable, watch people careen down a hill on decorated bar stools, then stay for the chili feed.
On the snowy northeast edge of Wisconsin, go on horse-drawn sleigh rides and see such events as recliner racing, ice bowling, dog-sled dashing, snowshoe baseball and snow sculpting.
All state parks, MN
Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks is free today, as well as April 25, June 13 and Nov. 27.
Iron Mountain, MI
This Upper Peninsula town on the Wisconsin border is where the international jumpers go; it's a stop on the Continental Cup circuit.
In its 46th year, this festival just north of Milwaukee features bed races, ice-carving, a dog weight pull competition, an egg hunt for kids and a parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.
All state parks, MI
There's no vehicle-entry fee in Michigan state parks on the holiday weekend, and Saturday and Sunday is Free Fishing Weekend.
Several parks will be holding winter festivals, fishing derbies and candlelight ski and snowshoe evenings.
Watch the "Greatest Show on Snow,'' with races of all distances for all ages and abilities plus a ski expo, snowshoe hike, skijoring and vintage ski.
On Saturday, watch the world's best skiers on the 51-kilometer marathon (55 kilometers for classic skiers).
On Sunday, there's a ski-gear and fat-bike demo and an event for girls 8-18.
Red Wing, MN
For the third year of this festival, 164 bands are playing at 21 venues around downtown Red Wing.
This Madison-area brewery celebrates with the Running of the Blondes 1K race, a fish throw, music, costumes and, of course, beer. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and sell out fast.
There's always good eagle-viewing in this Mississippi River town, and during the festival, there will be an ice-fishing contest, polar plunge and minnow races.
Prairie du Chien, WI
Birding experts give programs, and volunteers man spotting scopes at the Wisconsin Travel Information Center, just off the bridge into town. There will also be children's activities and an Effigy Mounds Winter Film Festival.
Dancers, musicians, storytellers and puppeteers representing traditions from around the world converge on the Overture Center for the Arts on State Street for this free festival. There's also food and a global bazaar.
In this little town, not far from Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, there will be potty-pushing contests for kids and adults, a best fur-hat contest and lots of craft beer.
Green Bay, WI
Around the region
At nature centers around the region, tour the sugarbush and learn how to tap trees and boil sap. Then, eat a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup.